Digital pathology systems offer pathologists an alternate, emerging mechanism to manage and interpret information. They offer increasingly fast and scalable hardware platforms for slide scanning and software that facilitates remote viewing, slide conferencing, archiving, and image analysis. Deployed initially and validated largely within the research and biopharmaceutical industries, WSI is increasingly being implemented for direct patient care. Improvements in image quality, scan times, and imageviewing browsers will hopefully allow pathologists to more seamlessly convert to digital pathology, much like our radiology colleagues have done before us. However, WSI creates both opportunities and challenges. Although niche applications of WSI technology for clinical, educational, and research purposes are clearly successful, it is evident that several areas still require attention and careful consideration before more widespread clinical adoption of WSI takes place. These include regulatory issues, development of standards of practice and validation guidelines, workflow modifications, as well as defining situations where WSI technology will really improve practice in a cost-effective way. Current progress on these and other issues, along with improving technology, will no doubt pave the way for increased adoption over the next decade, allowing the pathology community as a whole to harness the true potential of WSI for patient care. The digital decade will likely redefine how pathology is practiced and the role of the pathologist.
*Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
†Division of Anatomic Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
‡Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC
The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.
Reprints: Keith J. Kaplan, MD, Carolinas Pathology Group, 1000 Blythe Blvd, 4th Floor, Charlotte, NC 28203 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).